Hurricane Idalia rapidly intensified into a major Category 4 storm before dropping back to Category 3 early Wednesday before it made landfall along the coast of Florida’s Big Bend near Keaton Beach, along the Apalachee Bay, at about 7:45 a.m. Idalia is expected to bring “catastrophic storm surge,” according to the National Hurricane Center. A NOAA National Ocean Service tide gauge at Cedar Key, Florida, on the “dirty” side of the storm where impacts tend to be more severe, reported a pre-landfall water level of 5.9 feet above mean higher high water, which approximates inundation in that area, according to the National Hurricane Center.
By 8:45 Wednesday morning, the surge at Cedar Key was nearly 9 feet higher than the predicted tidal level. “We have multiple trees down, debris in the roads, do not come,” posted the fire and rescue department in Cedar Key. “We have propane tanks blowing up all over the island.” Forecasters expect that the areas from the Aucilla River, which leads to the Gulf at Apalachee Bay, to Yankeetown will see the highest storm surges, between 12 and 16 feet. The National Hurricane Center said that storm surge could reach 8 to 12 feet in the area around the Ochlockonee River to Wakulla/Jefferson County. Yankeetown to Chassahowitzka could see 7 to 11 feet. Tampa Bay could see 4 to 6 feet, and areas as far south as Chokoloskee could see 3 feet of surge.
Source: Sun Sentinel